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Battle of Kula Gulf
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
Helena and St. Louis in action at Kula Gulf, seen from Honolulu
USS Helena and USS St. Louis in action at Kula Gulf, seen from USS Honolulu
Date 6 July 1943
Location Kolombangara, Solomon Islands
Result Inconclusive
Belligerents
 United States  Empire of Japan
Commanders
Walden L. Ainsworth Teruo Akiyama
Strength
3 cruisers,
4 destroyers
10 destroyers
Casualties and losses
1 cruiser sunk,
168 killed[1]
2 destroyers sunk,
324 killed[2]

The naval Battle of Kula Gulf (Japanese: クラ湾夜戦) took place in the early hours of 6 July 1943 during World War II and was between United States and Japanese ships off the coast of Kolombangara in the Solomon Islands.

Contents

Background

On 5 July, the U.S. Navy Task Group 36.1, commanded by Rear Admiral Walden L. Ainsworth, and consisting of the light cruisers USS Helena, USS Honolulu, and USS St. Louis, plus four destroyers, had received word of another "Tokyo Express" mission down "the Slot" in the Solomon Islands, and the task group proceeded northwestardly past New Georgia Island.

The Allies were in the process of launching their next offensive in the Solomon Islands, having just landed troops on the island of Rendova as a preliminary step in seizing the major Japanese airstrip at "Munda" on New Georgia Island. In support of this landing, which was to set up an initial beachhead for moving U.S. troops across Blanche Channel to New Georgia, Adm. Ainsworth had the night before conducted a cruiser bombardment of Vila on Kolombangara Island and Bairoko on New Georgia and, short on fuel and ammunition, was in the process of retiring to the Coral Sea to replenish. A U.S. Marine Corps landing was scheduled on the northern shore of New Georgia on 10 July, and that would require further naval support.

Battle

At 01:06 off Kolombangara, the task group came into contact with a Japanese reinforcement group commanded by Admiral Teruo Akiyama which consisted of ten destroyers loaded with 2,600 combat troops, bound for Vila, which they used as a staging point for movement into Munda. The Japanese were divided into two forces, and a formation of three escorts trailing the main column first came under attack.

The U.S. ships opened fire at 01:57, fired 612 shells in 21 minutes and six seconds, and quickly sank the destroyer Niizuki and killed Admiral Akiyama. However the Helena had expended all of her flashless powder the previous night, and was thus forced to use merely smokeless powder, therely illuminating herself to the Japanese ships with every salvo. Two of the Japanese destroyers launched their Long Lance torpedoes and hit the USS Helena, fatally damaging her. The main Japanese force, which had countermarched away from Vila with the first contact, then broke away having landed only 850 of the 2,600 troops. The Japanese destroyer Nagatsuki ran aground, while the Hatsuyuki was damaged.

Both forces began to withdraw from the area, but one Japanese and two American destroyers remained in the area to rescue survivors and, at about 05:00, the Japanese destroyer Amagiri and the USS Nicholas (DD-449) exchanged torpedoes and gunfire. The Amagiri was hit and retired. The beached IJN Nagatsuki was abandoned by her crew in the morning, and she was bombed and sunk by American warplanes.

Aftermath

The USS Radford and USS Nicholas both stayed behind to rescue survivors from the Helena. While rescuing over 750 men, the Radford and Nicholas had to reengage the enemy three times, and they were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their rescue. the Amagiri escaped and later she was the warship that cut the PT-109 in half in the Blackett Strait southwest of Kolombangara.

Namesake

The U.S. Navy escort aircraft carrier USS Kula Gulf (CVE-108), in commission from 1945 to 1946, 1951 to 1955, and 1965 to 1969, was named for this naval battle.

Notes

  1. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks, p. 194.
  2. ^ Nevitt, Combinedfleet.com, [1] & Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks, p. 174. Breakdown of deaths by ship: Niizuki-300, Amagiri-10, Nagatsuki-8, and Hatsuyuki-6.

References

  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • Crenshaw, Russell Sydnor (1998). South Pacific Destroyer: The Battle for the Solomons from Savo Island to Vella Gulf. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-136-X. 
  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X. 
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1. 
  • Hara, Tameichi (1961). Japanese Destroyer Captain. New York & Toronto: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-27894-1. 
  • Hone, Thomas C. (1981), "The Similarity of Past and Present Standoff Threats", Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute (Annapolis, Maryland) (Vol. 107, No. 9, September 1981): 113–116, ISSN 0041-798X 
  • Kilpatrick, C. W. (1987). Naval Night Battles of the Solomons. Exposition Press. ISBN 0-682-40333-4. 
  • McGee, William L. (2002). "Operation TOENAILS". The Solomons Campaigns, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville--Pacific War Turning Point, Volume 2 (Amphibious Operations in the South Pacific in WWII). BMC Publications. ISBN 0-9701678-7-3. 
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, vol. 6 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Castle Books. ISBN 0785813071. 
  • Roscoe, Theodore (1953). United States Destroyer Operations in World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870217267. 

External links

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Battle of Kula Gulf
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
Date 6 July 1943
Location Kolombangara, Solomon Islands
Result Inconclusive
Belligerents
 United States File:Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
Walden L. Ainsworth Teruo Akiyama
Strength
3 light cruisers,
4 destroyers
10 destroyers
Casualties and losses
1 light cruiser sunk,
168 killed[1]
2 destroyers sunk,
324 killed[2]

The naval Battle of Kula Gulf (Japanese: クラ湾夜戦) took place in the early hours of 6 July 1943 during World War II and was between United States and Japanese ships off the coast of Kolombangara in the Solomon Islands.

Contents

Background

On 5 July, United States Navy Task Group 36.1, commanded by Rear Admiral Walden L. Ainsworth, and consisting of the light cruisers USS Helena (CL-50), USS Honolulu (CL-48), and USS St. Louis (CL-49), plus four destroyers, had received word of another "Tokyo Express" mission down "the Slot" in the Solomon Islands, and the task group proceeded northwest past New Georgia Island.

The Allies were in the process of launching their next offensive in the Solomon Islands, having just landed troops on the island of Rendova as a preliminary step in seizing the major Japanese airstrip at "Munda" on New Georgia Island. In support of this landing, which was to set up an initial beachhead for moving U.S. troops across Blanche Channel to New Georgia, Admiral Ainsworth had the night before conducted a cruiser bombardment of Vila on Kolombangara Island and Bairoko on New Georgia and, short on fuel and ammunition, was in the process of retiring to the Coral Sea to replenish. A United States Marine Corps landing was scheduled on the northern shore of New Georgia on 10 July, and that would require further naval support.

Battle

At 01:06 off Kolombangara, the task group came into contact with a Japanese reinforcement group commanded by Admiral Teruo Akiyama which consisted of ten destroyers loaded with 2,600 combat troops, bound for Vila, which they used as a staging point for movement into Munda. The Japanese were divided into two forces, and a formation of three escorts trailing the main column first came under attack.

The U.S. ships opened fire at 01:57, fired 612 shells in 21 minutes and six seconds, and quickly sank the destroyer Niizuki and killed Admiral Akiyama. However Helena had expended all of her flashless powder the previous night, and was thus forced to use merely smokeless powder, therely illuminating herself to the Japanese ships with every salvo. Two of the Japanese destroyers launched their Long Lance torpedoes and hit Helena, fatally damaging her. The main Japanese force, which had countermarched away from Vila with the first contact, then broke away having landed only 850 of the 2,600 troops. The Japanese destroyer Nagatsuki ran aground, while Hatsuyuki was damaged.

Both forces began to withdraw from the area, but one Japanese and two American destroyers remained in the area to rescue survivors and, at about 05:00, the destroyers Amagiri and USS Nicholas (DD-449) exchanged torpedoes and gunfire. Amagiri was hit and retired. The beached Nagatsuki was abandoned by her crew in the morning, and she was bombed and sunk by American warplanes.

Aftermath

The destroyers USS Radford (DD-446) and USS Nicholas both stayed behind to rescue survivors from Helena. While rescuing over 750 men, Radford and Nicholas had to reengage the enemy three times, and they were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their rescue. Amagiri escaped and later rammed and cut in half the motor torpedo boat USS PT-109, captained by future President of the United States John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), in half in Blackett Strait southwest of Kolombangara.

Namesake

The U.S. Navy escort aircraft carrier USS Kula Gulf (CVE-108), in commission from 1945 to 1946, 1951 to 1955, and 1965 to 1969, was named for this battle.

Notes

  1. ^ Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks, p. 194.
  2. ^ Nevitt, Combinedfleet.com, [1] & Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks, p. 174. Breakdown of deaths by ship: Niizuki-300, Amagiri-10, Nagatsuki-8, and Hatsuyuki-6.

References

  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • Crenshaw, Russell Sydnor (1998). South Pacific Destroyer: The Battle for the Solomons from Savo Island to Vella Gulf. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-136-X. 
  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X. 
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1. 
  • Hara, Tameichi (1961). Japanese Destroyer Captain. New York & Toronto: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-27894-1. 
  • Hone, Thomas C. (1981), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "The Similarity of Past and Present Standoff Threats"], Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute (Annapolis, Maryland) (Vol. 107, No. 9, September 1981): 113–116, ISSN 0041-798X 
  • Kilpatrick, C. W. (1987). Naval Night Battles of the Solomons. Exposition Press. ISBN 0-682-40333-4. 
  • McGee, William L. (2002). "Operation TOENAILS". The Solomons Campaigns, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville--Pacific War Turning Point, Volume 2 (Amphibious Operations in the South Pacific in WWII). BMC Publications. ISBN 0-9701678-7-3. 
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, vol. 6 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Castle Books. ISBN 0785813071. 
  • Roscoe, Theodore (1953). United States Destroyer Operations in World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870217267. 

External links


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